A Letter To The Woman In The Target Checkout Line

May 11, 2016Kara Woolery

To the woman in the Target Checkout Line … I saw you staring at me the other day. You were dressed to the nines, and had the most adorable Kate Spade purse (BTW I LOVE Kate Spade). It had been a VERY rough day for myself and the two precious girls I had with me.

YES I heard you gasp as one of my girls slapped me. You then roll your eyes and stuck your hand on your hip as my other girl started screaming LOUDLY VERY LOUDLY! Read about our Foster Journey Part 1 Here.

TRUST ME I understand how insane this may have looked to you, because a few weeks prior to this I would of had a similar reaction. Maybe not quite as openly as you did, but I am sure I would have had some judging thoughts run through my mind. I could hear your thoughts loud and clear as you continued to stare at me with your jaw dropping. I felt your eyes piercing my skin. You made it very clear to me you did not approve of what was going on with every disproving noise you made.

I wish you could of known I did NOT approve either.

I did not approve of what had happened to these girls to make them react this way. I did not approve that they were in my care instead of their biological home. I did not approve of a messed up system that left them in less than foster homes prior to mine. I did NOT approve of so many things; including the way they were reacting in the Target checkout line.

Target Checkout Line FosteringYou see a few weeks before your judging eyes met mine; these girls had joined our home late one night. (You can read more about that on this post – Fostering Journey Part 1) This was our first foster placement. We had one daughter, Lilly 11 years old, and she was an extremely easy child. She is the kind of kid you look at wrong and she melts into a puddle. Never wanting to disappoint and almost ALWAYS following the rules. You have to understand that this was all new to my husband and I. I was trying. I really was.

As soon as the melt down in the Target checkout line started happening … I was on top of it … I had a game plan. I know it may not have looked that way to you, but I was approaching this how I needed to with two fragile little girls. Two little girls who had been through more in their short lifetime, than I could ever imagine. When a child has trauma there are some things that are triggers, and the result is usually a melt down. It can not be approached with your standard parenting methods. Unless you have dealt with childhood trauma you could not possibly understand.

I know it seemed to you that I was hesitating and letting them carry on this way. Instead I was taking a QUICK second to race through in my mind the countless books and articles I had been reading that dealt with trauma. I wanted to tackle this head on and quickly, but in the manner they would respond to.

Dear Woman From The Target Checkout Line

I am asking you to PLEASE STOP judging the unknown. Trust me I know that is easier said than done. I use to look at the parent whose child is having a tantrum at the store, and wonder how on earth that parent was allowing the behavior. I SLAP myself now for ever thinking that way. If only I had known. I would of put my hand on the mother’s shoulder and said, “You’ve got this. Keep going. You CAN do this.”.

You have NO CLUE what is going on in those situations. None of us do.

-Maybe the child is autistic and became overstimulated with the crowded store full of noises, people, and new things.
-Maybe the child has experienced a type of trauma such as; death of a loved one, sexual, physical, or severe emotional abuse.
-Maybe the child has moved homes so many times they don’t know where home really is.
-Maybe the mom is severely depressed or just flat out exhausted, and she’s doing all she can to make it through the day.
-Maybe the child is having your standard temper tantrum…

If that is the case you should try applauding that mom! You may think I am crazy right now … but yes I did say applaud her. If the child is throwing a temper tantrum that probably means the mom is not giving into that child. She could have easily given him the candy bar he was screaming for to avoid this melt down. Instead she chose to stand her ground as she should. You may want to try giving her a high five, a fist bump, or a kind word of encouragement.

Target Checkout Line FosteringWe are all in this together – I am pleading with you to lift others up. To encourage instead of tear down. Next time you see that mom whose children are out of control maybe you will think twice before you start judging her. Instead I hope you will offer her some help or a few kind words.

Why don’t you tell that mom she can do this. Tell her what she is doing matters, and to keep moving forward. Because you have NO IDEA if that mom was just about to quit. If she almost gave up on helping other children who need a loving home, because she didn’t know how to move forward anymore. Or maybe she almost gave up on her own child with special needs, because she felt alone and isolated. Maybe just maybe she was about to give up on herself, because she couldn’t bare to take one more step in her messy life.

Kara Woolery (Bio mom to one & Foster mom to two so far)

To MOMS everywhere who have difficult children, or are struggling in a difficult situation trying to do this on your own. You can do this. Please know what you are doing matters, and KEEP GOING!

*This letter was written from a few instances where I had our two foster girls with us and had several people stare, complain, and make very judging body gestures and noises.

If you are new to my blog …. I normally am a party, home decor, recipe, and DIY blogger! So please feel free to stick around and check out more Here!



  • Lindsey

    May 11, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Thank you so so much for sharing your story. I have to admit I am on the judging side. I never once have looked at a screaming out of control child through this lens. You have 100% touched my heart and I am beyond grateful for having read these words. What your family is doing is amazing. You writing this article will change the thoughts of anyone who comes across it. I was crying – mainly because I was like the women you wrote the letter to.

    1. Kara Woolery

      May 13, 2016 at 3:32 pm

      Lindsey we are all on the judging side at times! Thank you so much and I am so glad I could give a different perspective.

  • Leslie

    May 11, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Well said, Kara. Blessings on your fostering journey! Been there. 🙂

    1. Kara Woolery

      May 11, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      Thank you!!

  • Amy@ A Cup Full of Sass

    May 11, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Oh Kara this is such a great post! I can’t imagine how hard it is to be a foster parent. This was beautifully written! xoxo

    1. Kara Woolery

      May 11, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      Thank you so much!

  • Kam

    May 11, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    I loved reading this! I agree with you, especially the part about lifting each other up and NOT tearing each other down. What an inspiration! I stopped judging along time ago the women with screaming children. I have 4 children and ran a daycare for many years. Although, I do catch myself judging the Mothers who are constantly on their phone while their children are literally running away from them! Who knows, maybe they’re talking to another mother who needs encouragement. I have work to do in this area! Thanks again! I think you’re amazing and courageous!

    1. Kara Woolery

      May 11, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      That is amazing Kam. I can imagine having 4 kids and running a daycare will definitely help you with that! Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Ruthie

    May 11, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Hope this opens people’s eyes. I went through a divorce 2 yrs ago and my son’s behavior changed dramatically. He had just started kindergarten and I was sure he’d be kicked out of school. But thanks to an amazing academic staff, family, and friends we made it through a rough season. I had someone give me advice (not asked for) I explained that children also need to vent their aggressions. He wasn’t being a brat he was hurting that Daddy was no longer in the home. 2yrs later he is a happy 7yr old honor roll student who loves both parents even if in separate homes.

    1. Kara Woolery

      May 11, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      Ruthie thank you for sharing your story. Sorry you went through that. I am so glad he is doing great now! That is a wonderful story!

  • Cindy

    May 12, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Beautifully written! I am the mother of 4 grown children, 9 grandchildren now and I applaud what you are doing. When mine were young, and close in age, it was a chore just to go out and my strong willed child usually pulled something…..I can laugh now…then, it was hard, the looks i got……even my own mother told me I “wasn’t handling it correctly”, but you do what you need to do that is best for the children involved. I’m happy to report my children are all very wonderful and are fabulous parents to boot! I must have done something right. My husband is always amazed I can smile when I see “tantrums” in a store and stand there so patiently…..I tell him, been there, done that, and it’s not easy…..there’s probably more going on that we know, we don’t walk in their shoes so it isn’t our place to judge. God bless you and your family.

    1. Kara Woolery

      May 13, 2016 at 7:28 am

      Thank you Cindy for your kind words and awesome job on such a large and wonderful family!! Thanks for your advice.

  • Jen

    May 13, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    AMEN!!! Thank you Kara for writing this and speaking up. Thank you for using your amazing blog platform to share something that desperately needed to be heard. I have been a blog follower for a few months now and I love your parties. I actually found you through your gallery wall post. But this post reached my heart and I hope you will share more of your stories with us. I know if you can write this you have lots more heart to share. Heart that will touch other peoples lives. Thank you again.

    1. Kara Woolery

      May 14, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      Than you Jen!!!! That is so nice to hear. And the response has been so wonderful so I will definitely keep sharing some heart felt post mixed in!

  • Laura

    May 22, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    I never leave comments, but I just wanted to add my appreciation for you and your family in what you are doing in fostering these two little girls. I wanted to adopt children for as long as I can remember. We got two children from the foster care system at the ages of almost 11 and just turned 7. And we’ve definitely had our share of difficult things to work through over the last 6 and a half years. Especially with our oldest we’ve seen the results of what being in both good and bad foster care homes produces. A lot of the emotional baggage our now 17 year has had to work through comes from verbal and emotional abuse suffered while in foster care. Praise God, we’re at a pretty good place now. Our older two have come so far and are now wonderful older siblings to their two younger brothers (2 1/2 and 8 mo). We need more foster families like yours! Even if the children’s time with you is short, the love, safety, and stability they see and experience with you will stick with them for the rest of their lives. God bless your family! PS: I love your beautiful decor and designs!

    1. Kara Woolery

      May 23, 2016 at 11:03 am

      Laura thank you so very much!! What a wonderful story you have! That is amazing. And thanks for all of the kind words.

  • Pam

    May 23, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    I am touched by your story and agree with you 100%. I am the mother of, what was once, a strong willed child and now, a stubborn, self supportive woman so, I remember those times! I thought that I would not make it through sometimes but, low and behold, the earth is still spinning! God bless you and your journey! YOU GOT THIS!

    Pam, Stuttgart, AR

    1. Kara Woolery

      May 25, 2016 at 10:57 am

      Thank you so much Pam!! I always hear the strong willed children grow up to be successful adults!! Hahaha!!

  • Vicki

    June 13, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Nicely written Kara. We all tend to judge from time to time without thinking it through. We should all remember to not judge like this, we have no idea what some else is facing. A kind word or offer to help goes a long way. And, I just opened a cake pin, and got a wonderful life lesson reminder. Thank You.

    1. Kara Woolery

      June 17, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      Thank you Vicki!! What a wonderful think to hear. And so strange it came from a cake pin hahaha!

  • Bren

    June 29, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    I love your story. I think I needed this read. I posted it on my Facebook and apologized I tend to be inpatient and a bit Judgmental without really knowing peoples story. Its great what you are doing for those girls may God continue to bless you and give you strength. I think he’s till working on me 🙂

    1. Kara Woolery

      July 1, 2016 at 11:33 am

      Bren that is so wonderful to hear. Don’t we all struggle with judging? I sure know I use to judge more before all of this.

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